“This is a very picturesque and enjoyable ride on the weekends,” relates Wheeler, “Very lively with people walking their dogs, joggers, rollerbladers, and cyclists.” The two-mile loop for bikers is easily accessible and near downtown Denver. Wide lanes allow for easy pedaling or a quicker pace around the track. From the twin lakes to pick-up games of basketball and dog walkers, Washington Park is a great ride in Denver.
“For a more difficult ride, check out Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison,” advises Wheeler, “Riders can loop up around Red Rocks and through Morrison for a 10-mile ride. The views are gorgeous from the top of Red Rocks Amphitheater.” The natural historic spots include everything from megalithic sandstone structures to dinosaur footprints in the stone. Over the ridge, cars are currently not permitted allowing for worry-free bike riding over the hogback. Make sure to bring plenty of water as temperatures can soar on the sun-soaked earth.
Cherry Creek Trail
“Heading east along the trail, the divided trail is a great moderate distance ride,” explains Wheeler. With several drop-in points, the ride affords a divided bike trail/rollerblade path and separate running/walking trail to alleviate traffic. The gently flowing water allows the mind to wander and several places to stop and enjoy the scenery, such as Confluence Park, afford much-deserved respites. While there are various places people can start running, biking or walking the trail, some easy and accessible parking spots can be located at Confluence Park or Cherry Creek Mall for start-up points where you can head onto the trail.
Platte River Trail
For a long-distance ride, try the Platte River Trail along the Mary Carter Greenway. “This is a lovely ride from Confluence Park,” explains Wheeler, “If you start at REI, the trip is around 25 miles. At 12 miles, stop at Hudson Gardens for a break. It has a snack bar to refuel.” Experienced cyclists can continue all the way to Chatfield Reservoir, a 45 to 50-mile roundtrip ride. Park at REI at Confluence Park for convenience if you’re unsure of where to leave your car.
High Line Canal Trail
“This is one of the most enjoyable and picturesque places to ride, anywhere” says Wheeler, “I often see owls, foxes and coyotes.” The paved and dirt trail is more challenging and suited for mountain bikes. Wheeler advises parking off of Colorado Boulevard and 285. If riding from that point to Goodson Recreation Center, the ride is 20 miles roundtrip. The course runs through Cherry Hills and Greenwood Village for a fantastic scenic trip.
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Golden – Lookout Mountain
Classic ride that starts near to doors of the Coors Brewing Company and ends in the clouds. The climb is not long, only 1627ft of elevation gain but it does that in a little over 12 miles. Views of Denver can be seen from the ascent and you might even spot some wildlife too. The course is also home of the very popular annual Lookout Mountain Bike race so if you think you are fast then join in.
Great climbing ride that starts near Wadsworth and C-470. There is over 3000′ of climbing on this route so bring your climbing legs.
Red Rocks Park Loop
This is one of the best longer rides in the greater metro area. Using mostly streets or as much as 75 percent trails, it takes in Washington Park and the Bear Creek system to launch you west to Red Rocks Park, one of the great destinations in the area. There, you climb steeply through slabs of Fountain Formation sandstone, a stunning backdrop to your ride that helps distract you from the steep, but mercifully short, climb. The City of Denver bought the property in 1926, developed it with help from the Civilian Conservation Corp during the Great Depression, and dedicated the amphitheater in 1941. It now serves as a spectacular site for rock concerts and a famous Easter Sunday sunrise service. Leaving Red Rocks, you scoot through the fossilized bones and footprints of Dinosaur Ridge just east of the park along Alameda Parkway, closed to automobile traffic between Hwy. 93 and Rooney Road. After joining the C-470 Trail, the ride peaks out near Green Mountain, descends to the 6th Avenue Trail, then works its way back to Denver on surface streets. If you ride this clockwise and skip the climb into Red Rocks, the descent on Rooney Road or the C-470 Trail is fast, smooth, and not to be missed.
Dacono to Hudson and back
Mostly flat ride of 50-60 miles or so. Start in the Dacono area, turn around at one of the gas stations in Hudson. The main segments of the route are county road 6, old highway 85, county road 8 and the frontage road alongside I-76.
Cherry Creek State Park
This is a loop of 8-10 miles, with some ups and downs but no long hills – repeat as necessary to get the mileage you want. Enter the park from the east. After crossing the Dam Road, there’s a fork in the trail. Veering right is a nice downhill until you hit the road. A left turn on the road leads up a steady incline, then past a stop sign and down the park road until you take a left turn (if you go straight, it takes you to the boat ramps and beach parking). The left takes you on a winding park road past the shooting range, a little hill where people fly their remote airplanes, and finally Cherry Creek Lake itself. The road climbs a short hill from the Lake to S. Dayton Street, where you can take a right, cross the Dam Road, then make a right to a trail that leads all the way back to the Cherry Creek path right above the Dam itself. There are other roads in and right around the perimeter of the park that can be traveled as well. (Thanks to Jeff Esses for this description.)
Combination of flats and big hills. Start at Exit 243 off I-25. Wend your way through Mead and Berthoud, then skirt to the east of Carter Lake. Take a right at the T-intersection at the Masonville store and follow the road along the reservoir. When you get to the dam road, either turn around and return or suck it up and tackle the very steep incline.
This is one of mid-Colorado’s great roller-fests. You can structure rides from 40 to more than 100 miles, with lots of climbing and fast descents. One recommended course is to start in Louviers, ride the frontage road along highway 85 to Sedalia, then head south and east until you get to Larkspur. From here you can make a big loop to the south and east before returning to Larkspur then back to Louviers. Lots of riding on Perry Park Road which can be pretty busy at times.
A classic for Boulder riders. Mostly flat to rolling, but with some sharp climbing in the last 3-4 miles before you top out at Carter Lake. 50-60 miles depending on options. Start in north Boulder, take Foothills Highway to Lyons, then go east on highway 66. Take a left on 75th and stay on this road until just after it joins highway 50, then turn left when you see the signs pointing to Carter Lake. Turn around at the Marina.
Serious climbing and some great switchbacks. Ride with someone you can outclimb and see how much farther back they are every time the road switches back on itself. This route can be as long as you want. Start in Golden, and after topping out, turn around or join I-70 until you find a road that allows you to bail out back to the east.
Deer Creek Canyon
the most popular serious climbing route for Denver riders. Park/start at Wadsworth & Deer Creek Canyon Road. Up Deer Creek to Phillipsburg. Left/south on Highgrade Rd, changing to Pleasant Park Rd. At Conifer, take CO73 north ½-mile to CO78 (Shadow Mtn Dr.) Left on CO78, which changes to Black Mtn Dr., and then to Brook Forest. Brook Forest re-intersects w/ CO73; go left to Evergreen, then right on CO74 to Kittredge. Turn right in Kittredge on CO120 (Myers Gulch Rd., which turns to Parmalee Gulch Rd.) Follow to intersection w/ US285; turn right and cross over to CO122 (S. Turkey Ck.) Go through TinyTown to Fenders, turn left on CO124 (S. Deer Ck. Cyn Rd.) back to start point. (Thanks to Barry Nash for this description).
Left Hand Canyon to Ward
One of the most challenging and probably the most popular mountain route on the front range. See “Tackle an Above Category Climb This Weekend” for a detailed description.